Situated just off the coast of Lombok in Indonesia, the Gilis are made up of three small islands: Gili Air, Gili Meno, and Gili Trawangan. Over the years, these sleepy little islands have become a huge destination for backpackers and budget travelers. Though they are not as tranquil and cheap as they were in the past, if you are looking for a quiet alternative to Bali with even better beaches and seafood, come to the Gilis. They are a wonderful destination to relax and soak up the sun! I was always amazed at how few crowds there were on the islands. This guide will help you take advantage of that. Go, relax, get a tan, and enjoy!
Top 5 Things to See and Do in the Gili Islands
1. Lounge on the beaches
2. Go scuba diving
3. Go surfing
4. Visit the sea turtles
5. Bike the islands
Other Things to See and Do
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1. Go snorkeling
You can take a private boat if you are with a large enough group or join other people or you can rent snorkeling gear for half a day from one of the centers near the beach. The three-island snorkel trip will take in the tropical fish, turtles, and various wildlife of the waters. Renting the gear is quite cheap, usually costing just 15,000 IDR (or less).
2. Check out the local bars and nightlife
Gili Trawangan is the party island out of the three, whereas Air is the quietest. Party nights are regular and are rotated between the bars, which usually stay open until 4 am. When the islands are busy, the famous Full Moon parties are held on the beach on the southern part of Trawangan with a DJ playing beats to sunrise.
3. Get involved in water sports
You can hire a fishing boat for the day or if you want something a bit different parasailing, water-skiing, wakeboarding are available activities here. Prices will vary, but activities like wakeboarding and parasailing generally cost around 800,000 IDR per person.
4. Go kayaking
On the northern side of Trawangan you can rent kayaks or take a guided tour of the island by kayak. Karma Kayaks is a good place to rent them from. On your trip you’ll probably encounter rays, turtles and other wildlife. A guided day trip will cost around 300,000 IDR per person.
5. Try freediving
Some of the dive schools in the Gili Islands offer freediving lessons. Make sure you ask a lot of questions to the divemasters about regulations and safety procedures before booking. Beginner courses last a couple days and will cost around 3,700,000 IDR per person.
Food – Most meals are between 30,000-75,000 IDR. A meal at a mid-range restaurant will cost around 75,000 IDR while a nice seafood dinner will be around 135,000 IDR (without drinks). A beer will cost around 30,000 IDR while a week’s worth of groceries will cost between 275,000-400,000 IDR. For the cheapest food, shop at the local markets. If you eat at any more luxurious hotels or restaurants, keep your eyes open for hidden taxes. They are usually between 5-25%, and are not explicitly mentioned.
Transportation – There aren’t any cars on the Gili islands, so you can walk everywhere. An island hopping boat will take you between islands for 25,000 IDR per ticket. Take the time and explore by foot! Bikes are available for rent for as little as 35,000 IDR per day.
Activities – Simple activities such as a pony cart ride are about 27,000 IDR. Diving is around 500,000 IDR for a fun dive, but can cost less if you get a discount or bring your own equipment. Snorkel rentals are just 15,000 IDR for the day, and bike rentals cost between 35,000-50,000 IDR. Most of the activities on the island revolve around the beach and ocean.
Suggested daily budget
400,000 IDR / $30 USD (Note: This is a suggested budget assuming you’re staying in a hostel, eating out at the cheaper restaurants, minimizing your drinking, and using local transportation. I wouldn’t expect to spend much less than this. If you want nicer accommodation, better food, and more drinks, you’ll spend around $50 USD)
Money Saving Tips
- Bike rental – Rent a bike for as little as 35,000 IDR. It’s is a great way to get around and see as much as you can of the islands.
- Street stalls – There’s a wealth of stalls selling delicious food at around 13,000-21,000 IDR. Eat here instead of the more expensive sit down restaurants and really get a sense for the local culture.
- Bargain hard – Nothing is ever at face value in Indonesia. Bargain with sellers as most of the time the price they’ve quoted will not be the price you’ll pay if you bargain!
My Must Have Guides For Traveling to the Gili Islands
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